Year in Review – December

Published 10:15 pm Sunday, January 5, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A toy run for the kids

This year’s Polk County Toy Run was a huge success with 430 motorcycles and 650 people in attendance.

Motorcycles rode from Saluda through Tryon, Landrum and Mill Spring and ended at the Polk County Courthouse in Columbus to drop off donated toys on the courthouse steps. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Department of Social Services, Steps to HOPE and Thermal Belt Outreach distributed the toys to Polk County children in need for Christmas. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox


A new captain on board
Polk County has a new board of commissioners chair.


The board of commissioners met and appointed former vice chairman Myron Yoder as the new chairman. Former chair Tommy Melton will now take on the role of vice chairman. Melton served last year as chairman.


Melton said it has been his pleasure to serve as the chairman during 2019. “No words will express how wonderful this board has been,” Melton said. 


Year of being thankful
Polk County Girl Scout Troop 1819 of Columbus has decided that instead of picking one organization for a service project, they will spend the year being thankful.


The Polk County Board of Commissioners met with Girl Scout Troop 1819 leading the county in the Pledge of Allegiance. The troop also later gave the board gift bags and told them they were thankful for commissioners. 


Human remains found
The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office investigated human remains discovered near Highway 11 in Campobello.


The coroner’s office first alerted the media that they were investigating remains that had been found, saying they did not yet know if they were human or not.


The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene around 7:45 a.m. A hunter found the remains in the early morning hours, according to Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright. The coroner’s office confirmed the remains were human. Spartanburg County Coroner commented, “We are currently in recovery mode as the body has been here for some time.”


Saluda’s own wins
Saluda singer and songwriter Aaron Burdett recently won first place in the folk category of the USA Songwriting Competition.


His song, “A Couple Broken Windows,” which he wrote a couple of years ago for his 2017 record “Refuge,” won the category. Burdett said in interviews he never knows which song may connect with an audience, but he feels like as long as he’s being honest and puts himself in his songs, it will connect. 


Burdett is signed with Organic Records label in Arden. The song that won the songwriting competition is a slower number and although winning competitions is not what motivates him, he said it provides a little encouragement and is a “little feather in the cap.”


White Oak gives back
White Oak Manor of Tryon raises money every year to donate to a local non-profit. This year they selected Steps to HOPE in Columbus.

The funds are raised every year by the residents of White Oak Manor of Tryon and matched by the White Oak Management Inc. of Spartanburg. This year the donation was for $2,650, with a check presented by White Oak officials to Steps to HOPE.


Steps to HOPE’s mission is to create a community free of domestic violence and sexual abuse through education, advocacy and client assistance. Steps to HOPE provides shelter, advocacy, support groups, free counseling, court advocacy, hospital response, youth character building skills, parenting classes and acts as a liaison for clients needing outside resources. 


Clean bill of health
After several reports of mice at the Landrum Ingles, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shared that the store, located at 1851 Hwy 14E., is officially clean. 


After a thorough inspection, there were no remnants of any rodents located. DHEC returned for a follow-up inspection on December 6 in response to the recent matter. The store checked out clean, receiving a 100% on the Food and Retail Establishment Report. The report did show that Ingles provided DHEC a summary of the visit from ECOLAB, the pest control company used. 


Case closed
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) concluded through a press release that the Upstate horse attacks have been caused by wild boars in the surrounding area, closing the Upstate horse attack case.


Working with Spartanburg, Greenville and Polk County Sheriff’s Departments, SLED sought to get an answer out to locals about the recent horse attacks. The press release stated that the investigation was based off of the attacks which took place within a four-week time period within Spartanburg and Greenville counties.


According to the press release, boar tracks and video footage of the wild boars in the surrounding areas is what confirmed SLED’s decision that the attacks were caused by boars.


Greenville County Sheriff, Johnny Mack Brown, shared, “While all of these incidents were extremely unfortunate, I am very thankful for the men and women who worked tirelessly to investigate these cases.” Brown continued, “In addition, I want to convey to our community members that our agency has and will continue to patrol these rural areas to ensure our citizens and their respective animals are safe and secure and for them to know that we have an active, open channel of communication for anyone who has questions or concerns.” 


The loss of a Great
Whether you remember him for his classy suits and brimmed hats, his stories, his rides, his love of Tryon or his kindness, most people will agree they just don’t make people like James Payne anymore. 


Payne not only remembered Tryon in the old days, he was one of Tryon’s biggest fans. The local historian often had people gathered around him to hear his tales of the olden days.


His great grandmother came to Tryon from a slave plantation in Columbia, SC and bought property in the area in the late 1800s. He took over his dad’s business and spent his life running James Payne’s Taxi Service until his retirement five years ago.


Payne passed his business on to Shawn Miller in 2014. Miller said many of Payne’s regular clients he still picks up.


The clients still talk about Payne’s knowledge of the history of Tryon and his kindness. Miller said one lady once left her suitcase at the train station and Payne drove it all the way to New York to return it to her. Payne told Miller recently that he’s had a good life and this town has been good to him. “He spoke with respect about everyone,” Miller said. “His quiet dignity asked for nothing, yet commanded affection and respect.”


Payne was 91.


New Mayor, councilman in town
The Town of Columbus swore elected officials into office, which included a new mayor and new council member.


Columbus Town Council met Monday and swore in newly elected mayor Pat McCool and newly elected councilman Brent Jackson, as well as incumbent councilmen Richard Hall and Mark Phillips, who all won in the November election.


Council also swore into office councilman Robert Williamson as mayor pro-tem and said goodbye to former mayor Eric McIntyre, who chose not to run for re-election this year.


McCool thanked the citizens of Columbus for voting him as mayor and said he hopes he does the best job for the town.


Council appointed Williamson as mayor pro-tem since he was the high vote getter in the 2017 election. 


This year’s high vote getter was Jackson, who secured a four-year term. Jackson will be the town’s next mayor pro-tem in two years. 


Hospital rezoned
The old St. Luke’s Hospital building on Carolina Drive in Tryon is now zoned General Business after council approved the rezoning 3-1 during a standing room only meeting.


Tryon Town Council met for the rezoning following the Tryon Board of Planning and Adjustments recommended the rezoning by a vote of 3-2. The zoning was changed from R-2 (residential) to GB (general business) with conditions, meaning the current owners will have conditions and any future owners would have to go before the town for a conditional use permit prior to changing the use.


The vote was 3-1, with commissioner Chrelle Booker voting against the rezoning, and commissioners Crys Armbrust, Bill Crowell and Bill Ingham voting for the rezoning.


The property is located at 330 Carolina Drive, Tryon and is 4.92 acres. Tryon Planner Tim Daniels said the potential owners want to reside there and manufacture gun parts. 


Drastic changes to driver’s license office
Polk County’s driver’s license office will not be available until April 2020.


Polk County officials were alerted recently that the mobile unit that comes to the Polk County Tag and Tax Office on the first three Thursdays of the month will now only be coming for the first three Thursdays in the months of April and October in 2020.


Polk County officials were sent an email from Brenda K. Anding, Program Coordinator II with the Division of Motor Driver Services/North Carolina Department of Transportation. Anding said the state is looking into the utilization of mobile assets across the state and how to decrease the overall customer wait times. 


In memoriam of:

Lisa Horton Allen

Charles Randolph “Randy” Ashley

Carole Ann Wells Ashcraft

Frances Dean “Wimp” Belue

Donald Dean Blackwell

Ricky Edward Blackwell

Anna Mae Wilson Carpenter

Michael Stuart Conner 

Rosia Lee Dameron Corn

William A. Ezel

John Luther Gardner

Howard Keith Gilbert

Weldon David Hill

Eleanor Peters Hollobaugh

Janet Amelia Mills Hudson

Nancy Rissler Jones

Harry Morrow Pierce Love

Shirley Anne Waters McDowell

Rickie Blaine McFalls

Bill Miller

Jacquelyn Minick

Mary Kate (Bradley) Owens

James Payne

David Lee Phillips

Daniel Alois Schwalbe

Lee Stanton

Helen Anderson Swaynigm

Joan Dobb Turnage

Robert T Milton “Butch” Weedon

Thomas “Tom” Wuerfel